A dog is supposed to be man's best friend. It can be difficult to view your beloved pet in that light, though, if she's eating holes in your wall or destroying your stuff when she's left alone. While your pooch's destructive nature can be frustrating, the solution is quite straightforward.
Dogs who destroy things often have other behavioral issues as well. While the most obvious issue revolves around the holes in your wall, consider other issues your pooch seems to struggle with. Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety often whine or bark endlessly and seem frantic when their owners leave their sight. Dogs who are merely bored don't just limit themselves to pulling apart the house, but may also destroy the yard, cable tie-outs, fences or other items.
The reasons behind your dog's destructive tendencies vary with the root causes. Common motivations for eating holes in the wall, destroying furniture and making a general mess of things include anxiety, boredom and immaturity. Puppies can be expected to be destructive as they're going through teething and learning house rules. Adolescent dogs are known for demolishing entire rooms in an attempt to entertain themselves. Unfortunately, many adult dogs suffer from severe separation anxiety and shred walls, toys, clothes and couches while trying to relieve the fear their person is never coming back to them. Try to discover the reasons behind your pooch's behavior so you can come up with a solution that best works for both of you.
Short-term solutions address the immediate need to keep your pup contained, safely way from your things and properly entertained. First and foremost, puppy-proof your house. Pick up all items at waist-high or lower and put them away and out of reach. If your pup can't access your stuff on a routine basis, you can prevent destruction from becoming second-nature. Second, keep your dog securely contained and supervise her at all times when she's out and about. Crate your pooch to keep her out of trouble when you leave the house or can't keep an eye on her. If she destroys crates, fortify the crate with home-improvement zip ties on all sides and use a leash clip, without the leash, to secure the door.
When dealing with a destructive dog, the most important thing to remember is that a tired dog is a happy dog. Tired dogs do not get into trouble. Whether your pooch's behavior stems from anxiety or boredom, providing increased exercise will help her relax and enjoy her own toys while she's alone. Do not simply turn her loose in the backyard and expect her to get exercise. Many dogs just sit at the back door and wait to be let in. Exercise needs to be interactive for your pup to get much benefit from it. Go for a bike ride, take a long walk, invest in a weight-pulling harness or throw a ball. Aim for your pooch to get 20 to 30 minutes of hard, fast-paced exercise five or six days a week. Provide raw bones, stuffed treat-dispensing toys such as a Kong or West Paw Design Tux, and durable, destruction-proof toys whenever you leave so your pup can entertain herself, get some mental stimulation and satisfy her need to chew.
- Dr. Sophia Yin: How to Prevent Damage from a Destructive Dog
- Pet Health Network: Why is my dog destroying my house?
- Perfect Paws: Dog and Puppy Chewing Problems
- The Dog Squad: Dealing with Destructive Puppy and Dog Behavior
- The Humane Society of the United States: Chewing: The Whys and Hows of Stopping a Gnawing Problem
- Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images